Food Pantry Opens For OCC Students

(L to R) Ocean County College students and members of the Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa – Alan Klingenmaier and Samantha Allen (Beachwood); Cassandra Gonzalez (Brick); Aiza Nageeb, Sophia Crawford, Tara Brown, Natasha Chiriboga, and Rachel Hess (Toms River) – stand inside the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Ocean County College’s Student Center after its grand opening. [Not Pictured: Kelly Clark (Seaside) was not present but was a part of the group that helped open the food pantry.] (Photo courtesy OCC)

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County College is helping students combat the growing trend of “food insecurity” with its Helping Hands food pantry on campus.

A grand opening ribbon cutting was held March 14, but the pantry has been open for students since February.

“This pantry was created to assist college students as they battle with something very extreme, food insecurity. For many years now, Ocean County College has wanted to have a food pantry for its students in need. Another meal program was established in 2012, Pay It Forward, to help our students. However, we knew the campus needed more. The Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (national honor society) partnered with the Student Life Office to finally make this dream a reality,” said Alison Noone, assistant director of student life at OCC.

The food pantry is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at the Larson Student Center on the main campus. Food insecure students must show their student ID.

Surveys across the country have shown a growing trend of “food insecure” students at two- and four-year colleges and universities. OCC is asking the public help their students by making donations of nonperishable food items and checks.

(L to R) Ocean County College students and members of the Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Aiza Nageeb and Sophia Crawford (Toms River), wait to cut the grand opening ribbon near the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Ocean County College’s Student Center on the Main Campus in Toms River. (Photo courtesy OCC)

The pantry needs single-serve, individually packaged pull-tab servings. They need: “cheese or peanut butter crackers, beef jerky; instant macaroni and cheese; applesauce, pudding, and fruit cups; cereal, granola, and power bars; Chef-Boy-R-Dee, SpaghettiOs and canned vegetables and fruit; boxed drinks along with fruit and tomato juices; packaged nuts, trail mix, fruit snacks and dried fruits; and chips, pretzels, cookies and Goldfish.”

Checks can be made out and mailed to: Ocean County College, with “Helping Hands” in the memo, Office of Student Life, OCC, P.O. Box 2001, Toms River, NJ, 08754.

“Tau Iota’s executive board has worked vigorously the past few months fundraising, communicating with local food pantries, stocking food, and much more. Thanks to the support of Student Life, Tau Iota is one step closer to accomplishing our goals: making a difference in the lives of our peers, every day. This project has made an impact on many of the board members as we worked day and night to make this happen. However, receiving emails from students expressing their gratitude makes it all worth it,” Aiza Nageeb, president of the Tau Iota chapter of PTK at OCC, said.

For more information, contact Noone at 732-255-0400, ext. 2138, or